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Re: [ox-en] Re: compulsion

Hi Stefan,

On Mon, 11 Feb 2002, Stefan Merten wrote:

The real underlying problem
hasn't gone away though - suppose the total of what people want to
contribute is less than the total of what people need? Then there
will be at the least social pressure (if not legal or state) pressure
on people to do more. 
Lately I had some thoughts related to his. They are not mature yet -

I asked myself why you didn't need structural coercion (i.e. money) in
feudalistic societies to make the people work for a living. The answer
seems simple: They worked directly for their own existence and of
course you don't need to force anyone to work directly for hir own
existence. This will be dictated by the will to survive.

From what I remember from school, it's too simple to look for one
explanation (unfortunately I don't know about German history, only some
English). First, the feudal period wasn't a single static system, it was a
developing one, and different things apply at different times. In early
feudalism a fair proportion of agricultural population were serfs - very
literally forced to work. Where people worked on rotating fields systesm,
with small strips scattered round a village and exchanged each year, part
of the motivation must have been peer pressure: not looking after your
land well one year would spoil it for other people next year. Later as
more people became simple tenants, and then finally had their rent in kind
replaced with money rent, the compulsions were the same as now. 

Alongside the farming population you also had the towns, without serfdom,
and with the guild system developing, with its own motivations for work
(pride in craftsmanship, but also desire to get ahead in the guild and
become rich or powerful or both, and for the apprentices punishment for
disobedience). And finally, like Benni mentioned in his mail the church
ideology of work to please god. Lots of reasons other than the will to
survive, which must be pretty constant at all times..

This changed with increasing division of labor. The division of labor
made it possible, that a person works only in part directly for hir
own living and in part only indirectly for hir own living. Capitalism
organized this process in a way, where people needed to be structural
coerced to do this indirect work - wage labor. The reason for that
seems to be, that the work needed in industry implied human beings
being just an add-on to the machine. Alienation at its best.

This changed however dramatically over time. Today machines become
more and more add-ons to human creativity. So the structural
alienation inevitably embodied in the technical means available

I still feel that a lot of this creativity possible through machines is
creativity that has been removed from people using the machines;
that is, some people changing from crafstmen to machine-minders, while
others do the programming. So the structural alienation embodied
in the technical means is still very much present, though the 
possibility for it to  vanish in the future is also there.

A GPL society building upon the reached amount of division of labor
now needs to completly remove the alienation so people do not need to
be coerced in any way to do the work only indirectly related to their
own living. We say, that Selbstentfaltung is the way this already
happens in Free Software (but in other fields too BTW). Art, the lust
felt in engineering work, and so on

And now the relation to your question. A member of a society based on
the division of labor only *on average* needs to do any type of work.
As a concrete single member one may not work at all and live
nontheless. We see that with rich or jobless people for instance.
(However, BTW, if we look closer, there are really few people who do
nothing at all. Personally I think humans are not made for doing
nothing at all. 

Me too. And not only not nothing at all, but also not bad work. Which
I think is also part of the reason some people write free software:
being fed up with doing unfinished work to meet deadlines..
But your worries went into another direction.)

(snipping the rest because I think we're both going round in circles on 
the same issue. Maybe you're right and no definitive answer is possible 
till things are tried in practice ;-)

best wishes


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